Thursday, February 24, 2011

What are we doing to the teachers?

Contrary to right-wing radio opinion, most teachers are good at what they do. While there are bad ones that need to get weeded out (and not an insignificant number of them), that's not the real problem. The real problem is external to the classroom.

Bill Maher has a great "New Rule" about this from March of 2010 that really sums it up:

Is Hollywood going to make any new motivational movies about how awesome your child's teacher is? Probably not, but teachers are just normal people doing a job at a minimal salary. For the most part, they're doing their job as well as any other person doing a job.

Teachers should be treated as partners and professionals - not enemies. Give them the benefit of the doubt when conflicts arise. Have some sympathy for them while they deal with large classes, apathetic students, entitled parents, and spineless administrators.

... and, no, I'm not a teacher.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

America promoting democracy in the Middle East

When are we going to stop lying to ourselves about how noble we are as a country? Sure, we've done some great things over the years. We've self-sacrificed many times for many different countries. Often we've asked for little or nothing in return. Often we've gotten exactly that in return (sometimes worse).

Our more recent foreign policy, particularly in the last 30-40 years, has been more about our own self-interests and not some alruistic things like democracy and freedom. The reality is that if it's good for us, the action/result is of less consequence.

This brings the focus of this rant to the Middle East. Yes, the Middle East has been in general turmoil for ... well, forever. However, the West's meddling in the 20th century and the United States' constant propping up of non-democratic dictators, in the late 20th century to the present, has sewn more anti-Americanism than anything. We talk about freedom and democracy from one side while we prop up the Shah, Saddam Hussein, Mubarak, Saudi princes, etc., etc. on the other.

We need to support that in which we believe and deal with the consequences of it. We'll be much better off in the long run and a lot more respected as a result.